Book Review: Rise of the Nones

Throughout Rise of the Nones, White provides a glimpse into the rapidly rising segment of the population that are religiously unaffiliated. I would highly recommend this book to anyone– especially those who are doing some type of next-gen ministry in the local Church. This book calls for a re-examination of our ministry to young people in light of the quickly changing landscape of religious thought in the United States.

Aptly named, “the Nones”, the religiously unaffiliated are the “third-largest defined constituency in the United States”. According to an ARIS survey, the nones nearly doubled between 1990 and 2008, going from 8.1% to 15%. This reveals the startling reality of an increasingly secularizing people that are willing to buck the once binding pressure to nominally identify oneself as religious. Millennial feel entirely comfortable and free to identify as religiously unaffiliated, not necessarily having any social pressure to do otherwise. As many young people abandon their faith as they age, White points out that this was entirely unexpected for the Church as the long-held belief was that people might go out and sew some wild oats, but ultimately return to the religious community they were once part of. Now religiously unaffiliated adults find comfort in a culture and people that largely find matters of the faith to not be of substantial influence in their lives. As this generation of nones age, the young and faithless will become old and faithless; they will have families and raise children who are also irreligious. And although it seems like this will set into motion an inevitable cycle of religiously disinterested people, White is quick to point out that the Nones are not necessarily anti-religious. In fact, many nones have a distinct openness to matters of the faith and carry with them a mixed bag of beliefs about God, their of experience of faith and the world they live in. Therefore, we have all the more reason to reimagine how we might better reach the nones with the Gospel.

As White clearly demonstrates, this is a matter of urgency for the Church and demands attention as well as an earnest reevaluation of ministry to young people. Here are some reasons you should read this book:

  1. Read this book if you want to know more deeply the religious beliefs of the nones that will continue all the more to make up the community around you.
  2. Read this book if you want to know the secularizing culture that your children or the children you minister to are a part of.
  3. Read this book if you want to make the Gospel known to the next generation of people that are part of a culture wholly unlike generations before.

You can by a copy of Rise of the Nones by James White here.


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